Shake, Rattle, and Rolling Over Roe v. Wade

Bill Berkowitz

Janet Folger,
veteran leader of the highly publicized anti-gay conversion crusade a few years
ago, is back with a new campaign aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade. Her
newly formed coalition, made up of more than two-dozen anti-abortion groups,
will soon gear up again to “Shake the Nation Back to Life.”

Since the 1973
Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-abortion movement has
operated on a number of fronts. Clinics have been bombed, abortion providers
murdered, picket lines and demonstrations stymied services at countless clinics
around the country, anti-abortion legislation has been introduced nationally and
in dozens of states, hundreds of anti-abortion groups have been founded, dozens
of media campaigns have been launched.

Over the past
few months, there have been a number of new developments:

(1) A
Conservative News Service report citing a Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds
that one-year after RU-486 “debuted in the American marketplace, the drug
combination that generated so much controversy in the first place has proved
underwhelming in its number of users.” Kaiser reports, “Only six percent of
gynecologists say they have prescribed it—far fewer than the 27 percent who say
they perform surgical abortions. Only one percent of general practitioners said
they prescribed RU-486.”

(2) In response
to President Bush’s stem cell decision, Neal Horsley’s notorious Nuremberg Files
website has added the president to its hit list, according to the Christian
Gallery News Service. The site’s staff say they are targeting Bush because he is
a “living embodiment of the fact that a Christian might live on Earth in the
here and now as an evil collaborator with baby-butchers whose conscience has
been totally defiled by the wiles of Satan.”

(3) In late
September, Fred Clarkson reported in Women’s-e- News that Clayton Lee
Waagner, the anti-abortion terrorist who “has threatened to kill Americans where
they live and where they work, and anywhere he can find the targets he has
selected,” has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Waagner, who
escaped from federal custody in February, “posted a manifesto proclaiming his
intentions on the Web site of the anti-abortion Army of God (www.armyofgod.
com/), in whose name numerous bombings, arson and assassinations have been
committed against abortion providers over nearly two decades.”

(4) In early
October, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals “ruled in favor of reproductive
freedom,” said National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy. “In
NOW v. Scheidler
, the Seventh Circuit upheld the first-ever nationwide
injunction against Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League and his cronies
in their network of violence and intimidation.” Against the backdrop of
September 11, Gandy said that NOW “had won another victory in the long fight
against domestic terrorism at abortion clinics.”

Scheidler is
expected to appeal the decision and the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The possibility of NOW v. Scheidler reaching the Supreme Court reminds
us that women’s rights currently hang in a delicate 5-4 balance,” Gandy said.
“Abortion rights advocates must stand firm in urging the Senate to reject
judicial nominees—at all levels—who won’t uphold our most basic freedoms” (see

(5) In early
October the Associated Press reported that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals has agreed to “reconsider a ruling in which it threw out a $107 million
verdict against anti-abortion activists behind Old West-style wanted posters [on
the Nuremberg Files web site] that branded doctors as ‘baby butchers.’” The AP
report points out that “a Portland, Oregon, jury ruled in favor of Planned
Parenthood and ordered the anti-abortion activists to pay $107 million in
damages, but in March, the three-judge appellate panel overturned the verdict,
saying the material was protected by the First Amendment. The panel decided that
the activists could be held liable only if the website and posters authorized or
directly threatened violence.”

Missionaries to the Unborn’s MTTU News reports that Father Frank Pavone, the
high-profile national director of Priests for Life for the past eight years,
“has been asked by Cardinal Edward Egan to resume full-time work within the
Archdiocese of New York and leave his position” with the organization. Anthony
DeStefano, executive director of the group said he was “shocked” by the
decision. Priests for Life has become a major player in the international anti-
abortion movement.

Shake the Nation
Back to Life, was first launched in early September. It’s a multi-million dollar
campaign aimed at convincing President Bush and the U.S. Senate that it’s time
to repeal Roe v. Wade. The best way to do it? The president should
appoint and the Senate must confirm only “pro-life” judges.

When Senators
returned from summer vacation many of them found their mailboxes stuffed with
unexpected gifts of dozens of baby rattles. The rattles are the signature item
for the campaign. According to Conservative News Service (CNS), a letter to each
Senator urging them to “please vote to confirm pro-life justices to the Supreme
Court, and do everything within your power to protect children from all the
brutal methods of abortion” accompanied the rattles.

This new effort
is the brainchild of the Center for Reclaiming America, a division of Dr. D.
James Kennedy’s powerful Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM). Janet
Folger, the Center’s director who is best known for spearheading CRM’s highly
publicized 1998 gay-conversion campaign, said that the mailing of rattles is
just the first stage in its multi-faceted campaign.

“The launch,
the kickoff, and the first media buy, was over $2.2 million, and the first buy
will run in the Washington, DC market,” Folger said. “That portion is over
$70,000, which will take us through mid-October.” The campaign’s mission, as
spelled out at its website, is fourfold: “to be a voice for the voiceless”; “to
encourage the president to nominate pro-life justices”; “to let the U.S. Senate
know that millions of Americans support the confirmation of pro-life justices”;
and “to take this message to the American people via nationwide TV, radio, and
print ads.”

The Shake the
Nation campaign is not restricted to potential Supreme Court nominees, says
Richard Lessner, executive director of American Renewal, the legislative action
arm of Family Research Council. “Millions of Americans want to see fair and
impartial jurists,” he said, “not unelected and unaccountable oligarchs,
appointed to the federal courts and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court.

According to
Shake the Nation, the two other goals of the campaign are to “respond to the ad
campaigns of NARAL and other pro-abortion organizations with our message of
truth,” and to “depict the pro-life movement in a positive light and as a
strong, unified, winning team.”

CNS reports
that the first commercial “features numerous infants holding rattles and
pro-life placards, super-imposed into a video of the National Mall and other
landmark locations in Washington, DC.” The children are all “laughing and
smiling until a gavel drops and viewers see a mock newspaper headline reading
‘Supreme Court Okays Abortion,’” and then the children begin crying, drop their
rattles, and disappear from the screen.

The commercial
voice- over says, “Tell your Senator to Shake the Nation Back to Life.”

Folger calls
the coalition a “Who’s Who” of the pro-life movement. Thus far, participants
include American Renewal, the legislative action arm of the influential Family
Research Council, the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association,
American Values, Campaign for Working Families, Care Net, Beverly LaHaye’s
Concerned Women for America, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Dr. James Dobson’s
Focus on the Family, Heartbeat International, Life Education and Resource
Network, Inc., Life Issues Institute, Lutherans For Life, National Life Centers,
Inc., Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship/ Break Point, Pro-Life Communications,
Pro- Life Action League, Roe No More Ministries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Lou Sheldon’s
Traditional Values Coalition, and www.Catholic-

On its website
Shake the Nation encourages supporters to sign up to have the campaign send baby
rattles to senators. The Shake the Nation rattle order form says that “for a
gift of $25 or more, personalized letters and baby rattles will be delivered to
your two U.S. Senators, along with a personalized letter to President Bush.” As
of this writing, more than 22,000 rattles have been sent.

The campaign
was launched at a time when many have noted discord within the anti-abortion
movement over President Bush’s decision allowing a minimal amount of
government-funded research on stem cells. In early September, the New York
pointed out, “Those in favor included the National Right to Life
Committee, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, president of Focus on the
Family. But it was harshly criticized by other groups, including many Roman
Catholic and evangelical organizations that maintain there can be no compromise
of principles involving the sanctity of life.”

In the past
Bush has voiced his opposition to legalized abortion, and, reports the Times,
“has said that he considers the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to have been a
‘judicial reach’.” However, since his inauguration, while Bush has issued a few
anti-abortion executive orders, appointed a number of so-called pro-life people
to positions within the Administration, and courted Catholics with his “culture
of life” mantra, he has not advanced any specific anti-abortion legislation.

In the next
year or so it is conceivable that three members of the Supreme Court, Chief
Justice Rehnquist, and Justices Stevens and O’Connor, could step down. Justices
Stevens and O’Connor have voted to uphold Roe, while the chief justice opposes

Friends In
High Places

One factor in the
campaign is the close relationship the Christian Right has with Attorney General
John Ashcroft. Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM)
is one of those lesser-known Christian Right organizations that have accumulated
enormous wealth and power over the past two-dozen years. One of its projects,
the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship, “is a spiritually based
outreach to men and women in positions of influence and authority in our
nation’s capital.”

The July 2001
issue of the Center’s Christian Statesmanship News reported that Attorney
General John Ashcroft addressed the Center for Christian Statesmanship’s
Politics & Principle evangelistic luncheon. Greeted by a standing ovation,
Ashcroft “shared openly about how his faith in Christ has impacted his life and
his service to the nation. And he challenged those in attendance to carefully
consider the claims of Christ.”

In addition,
Janet Folger, head of the Shake the Nation campaign, recently met with Ashcroft,
giving him petitions, gathered by the CRM’s Center for Reclaiming America, with
130,000 names on it in order “to encourage him to reverse the previous
administration’s abysmal failure to enforce anti-obscenity laws.” Folger said
that Ashcroft “seemed deeply moved…and [also] voiced his heartfelt appreciation
for all those who supported him” in his conformation process.

Folger has yet
to determine when the campaign will be resumed. Whether Attorney General
Ashcroft will repay the Religious Right’s support in the months to come remains
to be seen.         Z

Bill Berkowitz is an Oakland-based freelance writer covering right-wing